Ultra low power (ULP) RF specialist Nordic Semiconductor today (13 November 2013) announced that US startup Hothead Technologies has specified Nordic's nRF8001 connectivity chip to provide Bluetooth low energy wireless comms in the world's first fitness monitor to track body temperature in addition to conventional movement (time, speed, and distance) and heart-rate.
Various studies have shown that hyperthermia (body temperature greatly above normal = 37.5ºC or over, as opposed to hypothermia which is body temperature greatly below normal = less than 35.0ºC) can adversely affect both physical performance and reduced the benefits of exercise.
The Spree Fitness Monitor is the world's first product to recognize this fact and in conjunction with a free Spree app running on any Bluetooth v4.0 (which includes Bluetooth low energy as a hallmark feature) enabled smartphone or tablet enables users to monitor their optimal temperature-movement-heart-rate workout zone in real time.
In operation, all measurement technologies are integrated into a small 'Performance Optimisation Device' or 'POD' that fits securely into a water-resistant silicone elastic headband that the end user wears (and indeed additionally benefits from functioning) like a traditional sweatband.
All three sets of biometric information (body temperature, movement, and heart-rate) are then obtained from the forehead via a thermistor (an electronics device whose resistance precisely varies in response to thermal change) for temperature, a 'photoplethysmograph' for heart-rate (an optical blood volume measurement technology employed in most emergency room pulse oximeters), and a triple-axis accelerometer for motion.
This, claims Hothead Technology, makes the Spree the most advanced personal fitness monitor in the world and far more accurate than existing wrist or foot worn devices, without the discomfort (especially for women) of heart-rate chest straps.
"Body temperature is a critical physical training and performance component, yet no other company or fitness monitor in the market today is doing temperature," comments Steve Swaim, director of operations at Hothead Technologies. "Yet over-heating not only reduces the benefits of a workout and destroys peak endurance performance, but can also put the body in serious harm's way: you are actually physiologically doing harm to your body when working out too hot."
Swaim continued: "In addition, temperature gives the most accurate calorie burn rate it is possible to obtain and by including temperature with motion and heart-rate it is now possible [using our app] to visually see and continuously remain within the most optimal training or performance zone."
"In addition to monitoring temperature, one of most interesting aspects of this application is the way in which it converges the ability to measure several separate fitness parameters into a single device," commented Geir Langeland, Nordic Semiconductor's director of sales & marketing. "I welcome such developments as they help make setting-up and using the devices easier for end users, and that can only be a good thing."